A group of electric cooperatives in Mindanao has pushed for the inclusion of rural electrification in the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa program.
Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, deputy executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), told TIMES that the Association of Mindanao Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) has sought the help of the agency in pushing for a greater DOE (Department of Energy), NEA (National Electrification Administration) participation in the program.
As a result of the Amreco call, MinDA has recommended that the two agencies and Amreco be given bigger participation in the program.
This is because the agency sees that essential to achieving a successful resettlement program, and the overall social benefit to the family beneficiaries in terms of housing, livelihood, education and learning, economic activities, communication, among others, is the availability of reliable electricity.
This recommendation is premised on the fact that Mindanao happens to have a power structure which is slightly different from Luzon, considering that electricity is served by electric cooperatives with varying capacities, he said.
Earlier, MinDA has sought the help of the United States Agency for International Development to help evaluate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic on the power industry.
The evaluation is necessary as there are only four private power distribution companies compared with about 30 electric cooperatives in Mindanao.
The agency has also pushed for key mechanisms to ensure the success of the BP2 program, a brainchild of Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go.
Among the incentives that it wants implemented are higher wages, comparable with those in urban centers, for workers who will work in identified areas under the program, and better incentives to companies that will locate in these areas.